HFH New Zealand Looking At Rebuilding Traditional Houses For 500 Tsunami-Affected Families in Samoa

It Has Received Offers of Help From Over 500 Volunteers, Mainly Builders And Tradespeople

The force of the tsunami brought the roof down on this house in Samoa.

AUCKLAND, 16th October 2009: Habitat for Humanity New Zealand, which is leading Habitat’s response to the tsunami which devastated the Samoan islands, is looking at building 500 houses based on traditional Samoan structures with disaster-mitigation elements. HFH New Zealand has received offers of services from more than 500 volunteers, mainly builders and tradespeople.

In Samoa, shelter is urgently needed as the rainy season is due to begin in December. The houses which HFH New Zealand is planning to build will be fairly easy to construct and will each come with a flush toilet. HFH New Zealand has engaged the services of a Samoan architect to design the houses.

The traditional Samoan house, called fale, is an open structure with concrete or timber floor, posts placed every one meter apart, timber trusses and an iron sheet roof. People often make bamboo or thatch shutters which they let down during the night. In the daytime, the shutters are kept up to increase ventilation in the hot Samoan weather.

An assessment team led by Pete North, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New Zealand, recently returned from Samoa where the team met with the Prime Minister, the Disaster Relief Council, among others, to determine Habitat’s role in the reconstruction process.

HFH New Zealand is also looking at setting up a Habitat Resource Center in Samoa for the mass construction of fale components, such as timber trusses and rebar lengths cut to correct sizes and kit core houses which will then be delivered to the final site. The fale can be erected within a day.

Discussions about possible resource and funding support are under way with Habitat offices in Australia, Hong Kong and Germany and with several U.S. affiliates.